In an always-on, multi-channel world of wireless devices and social media, there’s never been a greater amount – and variety – of information available to retailers. And it’s never been more important for retailers to use that information in order to meet their own business goals and create a seamless, consistent customer experience.
Today’s consumers are equally comfortable shopping online, in-store or via their mobile device. Regardless of the channel or touchpoint they use to browse or make their purchases, however, they expect the retail experience to be consistent and satisfactory.
The results of a survey that we carried out last year demonstrated that the majority of retailers are aware of this demand for consistency, and understand that they may lose sales if they are unable to keep up with it.
The importance of product information
The survey revealed how important high-quality product information was in delivering the required satisfactory multi-channel shopping experience. It showed how such information not only enabled retailers to improve consistency, but also to increase sales performance by offering more relevant cross-sell and up-sell opportunities wherever possible.
Around three-quarters of retailers recognised how the growth in social media as well as in mobile devices had led to an increase in data attributes and sources and the potential new opportunities that this diverse data represented. Existing product information can be augmented with behavioural data, such as in-store sales, return rates and sales velocity, as well as social data such as ratings, reviews, and likes. Doing so will then provide retailers with critical insights into their customers’ shopping preferences.
Challenging attempts at analysis
But, while the insights that data provides could prove invaluable, the effectiveness of any attempts to analyse it may be restricted by the levels of quality and completeness of the data itself. First, it’s important to identify which, of all the data available, is the most useful for improving product information and the overall customer experience.
Often this data can be locked in separate silos within a retailer’s business, such as its ERP, PoS and loyalty systems, or its e-commerce or social channels. Not only does this make any attempts at analysis challenging, but it also inhibits the decision-making process within the business by impeding the speed at which any useful reports can be generated. Most importantly, any insight gained from this analysis may be based on low-quality or even inaccurate information.
By employing a Master Data Management (MDM) solution, however, a retailer is able to create and maintain a single repository for high-quality data, allowing it to be accessed and analysed in order to unlock its potential and improve that all-important customer experience. An MDM solution can be viewed as being a single hub serving as a common means of mastering and sharing data across all retail environments, whether physical or virtual, delivering the same product information - regarding asset, social, location and other domains - across all of a retailer’s channels and touchpoints.
A single, clear source of data
Having access to a single, clear source of data means that retailers are able to move at the speed of their consumers. They are able to deliver the information they want, to the device they want, at the time they want it. As customers continue to demand consistency across all of the channels they use, it’s never been more important for retailers to analyse the wealth and variety of available information and use the insights gained to inform their business strategy.
If retailers were to focus only on basic product information, they would be missing out on the opportunities with which the wealth of available data provides them. To lead the way in a competitive multi-channel market, analysing and leveraging data across the whole customer experience will be crucial. But managing that data is crucial and using an MDM solution to provide a single trusted source of information is an important step on the journey from data acquisition to customer satisfaction.